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  Case: Donít Hold Hands
Ade and Elsa are two 7th grade girls from Indonesia who joined our school couple months ago. I teach them Physical Science. They have well-developed English skills. Although they have an accent, they can communicate with teachers and fellow students. I am very sensitive to the needs of newly-arrived immigrant students, so I paid close attention when I heard rumors from other students about them. Students started spreading that Ade and Elsa were in a lesbian relationship. Apparently Ade and Elsa heard about the rumors; they came to me in tears. I asked them to tell me what was going on. What I found out was very interesting. Ade and Elsa have known each other since they were small children and they have always been best friends. Their families decided to move to the US together. Their fathers applied for jobs in the same company. They both received offers and moved together. Ade and Elsa were excited about going to the same school in US and continuing their friendship. In Indonesia, same-gender friends holding hands is very common and indicates friendship. When children at our school saw Ade and Elsa holding hands they thought that Ade and Elsa were in a lesbian relationship. I have to do something about this. I see two options before me: I will explain to the children in my classes that friends holding hands in some cultures is completely normal, or I will tell Ade and Elsa to not hold hands to avoid these rumors. The second option seems culturally insensitive, but if Ade and Elsa continue holding hands, rumors will continue even if I explain to my students the cultural side of their friendship. What should I do? If you have an original solution to this issue, please advice.
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
The first lesson seems to be about the problem of spreading rumors. I would treat this as any normal case of a rumor that is spread with the intent to hurt another person, which is fairly normal in middle school. I would try to find the person who started the rumor, and have a conversation with that student and the parents about rumors and the potential impact they can have on others. Then I would have a meeting with Ade, Elsa, and their parents to explain the situation and the cause of the rumors. I would also explain that students starting rumors is not acceptable, but it is also difficult for middle school students to understand the difference in cultures and the outward expressions of friendships. Lastly, I would have the student who started the rumors apologize to Ade and Else, and then explain to the class the ideas of different cultures and expression of friendships. At this point, I would leave it up to Ade and Else on whether or not they would continue to hold hands at school.
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: Great Idea! If I were in this situation, I would exactly do this.
Rated On: October 17, 2014 8:28 pm
Rated By: Doniesha